The Grapevine – 14/06

ECBU, London's Calling, SkyD, The Grapevine, u23, Understanding Ultimate., uTalkRaw

The Grapevine this week covers ECBU, U23’s and much more…

To start us off Benji asks Who Should You Listen To on Understanding Ultimate.

SkyD magazine announced their coverage of the upcoming European Championships for Beach Ultimate and the organisers have also created a live page ready for results, pics to follow from home.

Make sure to follow all the GB Beach squads going into ECBU on twitter, this helpful hashtag page will assist you. Also if you’re going to Sunburn this weekend you get a chance of playing 4 of the squads (Mixed, Women’s, Grand Masters and Mixed Masters) plus seeing a show game with the two mixed teams!

Now for some shameless plugging: we got a mention on SkyD magazine with the Irish piece from Mark and on …

UTalkRaw who interviewed John Maddox and Hannah Brew from the GB U23 Mixed squad, keep updated on their FB page. Also listen to episode 23 here, particularly the last few seconds. 

Finally, with T2 coming up fast relive T1 through our Twitter and this week’s review coverage.
GB Ultimate 2013.

Keep informed on fb, twitter and RSS feeds on the right! DP @ tSG. 

London’s Calling Review – Women’s

Iceni, London's Calling, Nice Bristols, PUNT, SYC, Tournament Reports, Women's Tour
Charlie Blair finishes off a busy week of London’s Calling reviews with the Women’s division.

London rivals lead the pack at London’s Calling

As expected, London’s Calling did not disappoint, with considerable disruption to the initial seedings at both ends of the women’s tour. The first event of the season saw the two London teams dominate their home turf with Iceni being the only team in the top 10 to retain their original position at the summit of Women’s tour. On the other hand, their local rivals, SYC, celebrated the greatest ascension of all; jumping up the table five seeds above the 7th place they began the weekend with.

Iceni’s quest to the final left a path of destruction in their wake, conceding no more than 8 points in any one match during the whole weekend. Clearly they were determined to assure the women’s tour that their performance at last year’s London’s Calling was a marked anomaly. As their score lines suggested, Iceni were merciless from the off, with every intention to bury each game come the half. This strategy proved to be a success, albeit after an initial wobble during their first pool game against PUNT on the Saturday morning.

Camille Peetroons toeing the line. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

PUNT impressively pulled Iceni apart. And it would seem that this confidence only continued to fortify over the course of the weekend, with them having made a fantastic four seed leap by the close on Sunday. With figureheads Magali Matsumiya and Niamh Delany consistently looking to exploit the breakside they achieved some ambitious and fast pace play that allowed them to trade to the half against the reigning champions. From which point, the depth of Iceni’s squad pushed the pedal to the floor to comfortably see out the game in the end.

From then Iceni, didn’t look back, convincingly seeing off the rest of their pool. This included a somewhat unexpected demolition of YAKA who only managed to take 2 points off the Londoners. The French seemed to have been particularly deflated having lost in sudden death to newcomers ROBOT in the morning. A defeat that ended up seeing ROBOT take the remaining semi final spot that the third seeds had been coveting.

Women’s movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.
Nice Bristols looked set to retain their position at top of the other pool, having convincingly thrashed Iceni Savage, Swift and Leeds, and conceding only 13 points from all three games. However, their final game of Saturday turned out to be the ‘one to watch’ of the weekend. SYC romped to victory, having taken the game to sudden death with an incredible comeback from 11-5 down. A gritty performance, with some game changing defence from key players like Romanie Hannah and new addition, GBu23 Women’s captain, Ruby Rennison. As a consequence, SYC avoided Iceni in the semis, leaving Nice Bristols to face the top seeds the following morning. Unfortunately, they faced possibly one of the best defensive team performances of the weekend. Iceni were hungry and ‘heads up’ for turnovers, and dominated the Bristol offence from the get go. However, having had such tight game to the eventual runners up, it would be no surprise to see Nice Bristols in the final at Tour 2…

It was a disappointing weekend for Iceni Savage, LLL, and Seven Sisters, all of whom who were usurped by PUNT, and fell out of the top six. The latter two seemed to have suffered from a considerable shake up in both their rosters, and will hope for some tighter games come Tour 2 now that they have ironed out some initial ‘teething problems’ at London’s Calling. In the case of Seven Sisters, if last year’s performance is anything to go by, a mediocre London Calling finish does not mean they should be written off in Nottingham. Savage were unfortunate to have lost out in the pool stages to two games which ended in sudden death and potentially could have otherwise had a very different weekend. Unsurprisingly, it appears the lack of subs took its toll after this disappointment in their subsequent games.

Newcomer Vanessa Lowe debuting for Iceni Savage. Photo Courtesy of Louise Smith.
Aside from Iceni’s unswerving domination at the top, within the top 8 there really is everything to play for. Will Tour 2 be more of the same, or will we see another big shake up as the season progresses and teams respond to the successes/failures of their debuts? Is there anyone who can knock Iceni off the top spot? It’s safe to say that no one came close on this occasion. Despite SYC successfully earning their place in the final, inconsistency still plagues them. It was not exclusively Bristol whom they only just edged a victory over during the pool stages having also had to take the game to sudden death to defeat Iceni Savage. Equally, they had some spectacular points in the final which really did champion the level of talent on their team, but there remains something about their play that is preventing them from making the step up from not simply challenging their opponents, but dominating them.

So with the speculation and anticipation of London’s Calling over, we now eagerly await the reply…

Bring it!!!

Indeed! With only a week away till T2 I certainly can’t wait! Like, share, contribute and comment. DP @ tSG. 

London’s Calling Review – A Tour

A Tour, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, GB, London's Calling, Open Tour, Tournament Reports, u23
Josh Coxon Kelly brings us this weeks penultimate review of London’s Calling – A tour.

As expected the opening tour of 2013 has brought an exciting start to the UK domestic season. With weather conditions which came dangerously close to ‘summery’ at points, UK clubs were treated to the perfect conditions to start off their season’s battles and rivalries.

Sitting pretty at the top of the pack, Clapham’s O line showed throughout the weekend why they were given the number 1 seed as the only non-movers of the A-tour. Bolstered by a returning Giacomo Maltman and new recruits Magnus Wilson (Tooting) and Rob Schumacher (Fire), the Clapham machine showed its capabilities with a clinical weekend – with their closest test from Bad Skid (15-13 Clapham) overshadowed by a decisive victory over the same team in the final. With the D-Line ‘dogs’ woofing their way to third place, the current UK and European champions have succeeded in a strong statement to start their competitive year.

Chevron captain Mark Penny lays out for the grab against CUSB 
Chevron proceeded through pool play unscathed, and found their form of the weekend for their quarter final matchup against the GB U23 squad which despite being largely outnumbered and losing 8 players to the opposition, they came out of with a 15-10 victory. Unphased by the aggressive offence and screaming defense Chevron showed an early sign of the form they will need to replicate if they hope to challenge for the long coveted National and European titles later in the year.

The GBU23 team had one of the most controversial seedings pre-tournament at 7th. They rose to beat this by two, but will be unhappy to not have had a shot at a Tour final. The young squad showed flashes of brilliance throughout the weekend, and displayed one of the more formidable defensive squads at the tournament. However, an occasionally stuttering offense was exposed by the most experienced opponents with losses to Clapham and Chevron. When this team plays at the top of their abilities they are strong enough to take on any domestic club – but will they be able to sustain this level of play to get the result they want at Tour 2?

EMO 1’s ascension of three seeds is maybe the story of the weekend, and a considerable move at such a high level of competition. Despite missing the leadership and pitch length throws of Joe Wynder, EMO showed themselves as a strong geo-team that has full intentions of challenging for the top 4 this season. They have stars Rich Gale and Dan ‘Colonel’ Furnell from the recent GB Open squad (Rich will also be attending World Games), backed up by plenty of pace and athleticism from a solid squad. EMO have reported consistently high numbers at trainings, and this is reflected in large squads attending Tour events for the recent years. Most importantly the team are starting to play with the belief that is needed for giant killings – keep an eye on these boys for potential major upsets later in the season.
A tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

Fire of London found themselves in tough matchups for their quarter-finals (Bad Skid) and the 5-8 playoff (a livid u23 squad). The resultant 7th place position will be disappointing, but does not in any way suggest that Fire are not going to be fighting hard for finals berths as the season continues. Once again recruiting heavily, and importantly retaining GB Open/World Games Matt Parslow, Fire are strong once again and, importantly, are a team that knows how to peak later on in the season.

Outside of the top 8 we find Kapow!, who after an upset in Fire 2’s favour on Saturday will have been disappointed not to have been in the top 8, but have shown their intentions for bigger things by taking 9th over Cota Rica. Bear Cavalry more than validated their A Tour starting seeding, rising 8 seeds and finishing over Brighton, a top 4 team of recent years. Refreshed DED and Tooting squads both saw falls of 6 seeds – it will be interesting to see if the new faces on these squads will be able to return their teams to top 8 contention, or if their season will be more about staying in the A tour altogether.

With the current strength of the B Tour, teams traditionally used to A Tour ultimate such as BAF, Cambridge, Fire 2, Devon and Tooting may find re-qualification harder than ever before. The Tour season has got off to a strong start, but with shifting squads and various non club entries it is hard to get a picture of Nationals yet. Consistency is key to the Tour, and with competition rising at all levels, no game will be won easily in Nottingham.

Almost there, tomorrow we have saved the best till last: Women’s review! Remember to like, share, comment and contribute! DP @ tSG. 

London’s Calling Review – B Tour

Fusion, LLL, London's Calling, Manchester, Open Tour, Tournament Reports, Zimmer
Dale Walker continues our London’s Calling review week with a look at B tour.

As UK Ultimate continues to grow and develop with the standard improving across the board, the stigma previously attached to being a B Tour squad looks less offensive in light of a competitive opening Tour of 2013. Perennial A Tour teams including LLLeeds, Burro and Fusionbattled with new kids on the block Manchester, Glasgow, and JR – not to forget yo-yo teams like The Brown and Cardiff, programmes from Vision (with their strong junior setup) and Bristol (one of the deepest Ultimate communities in the UK) and we had a truly wide field for the first time in years.

Manchester came into Tour the #1 seed having jostled with a few for an A Tour berth beforehand, but with strong credentials from a few (including a stacked Zimmer team featuring GB legends Dave Sealy, Si Hill & Matt “Bob” Hims) this was always going to be the scrap it proved to be.

Santiago Zuluaga (Manchester Ultimate) goes big for an offence point in the Saturday pool game against LLLeeds. Photo courtesy of David Sparks.

Bar Pool J, each pool featured one team who were knocked out of contention having started the weekend seeded in the Top 8 bracket – the unfortunate 3 being The Brown, Cardiff Storm and Fusion – demonstrating the difficult nature of seeding at the start of the season and the topsy-turvy nature of Tour. Rumours had been spreading across the field about the various strengths of some of the contenders – Zimmer had been beaten on Saturday by EMO2 which shocked a few. Ireland U23, who featured a number from the successful Irish university scene of 2012 & 2013 looked to sail into A Tour to get the best preparation for Toronto. JR had a successful 2012 building on a strong programme from the universities, finishing in A Tour in 2012 and fancying themselves another shot at the big time.

The Quarter Finals on Sunday morning saw Manchester take on Brighton 2, LLLeeds against Ireland U23, Glasgow battle with Reading and Zimmer hope JR ran less than them… the only upset here was perhaps LLLeeds dispensing of a hyped Irish team in their QF to earn a right to play Zimmer in the SF, the rest going to seed.

The Semi finals saw Manchesterand Glasgow – both new geo programmes in their respective cities – go head to head whilst LLLeeds and their young squad played a team at the opposite end of the spectrum in Zimmer. A sudden death nail biter between Mcr and Glasgow saw the Scots come through, whilst Zimmer dispatched the young upstarts at Leedsdemonstrating their wisdom and experience.

B tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

The Final would see Zimmer take the B Tour crown in a close fought 15-13 win over Glasgow, who had demonstrated over the 2 days that they are an unassuming team who will only look to grow in coming years lead by the experienced Webb brothers and working closely with the local university talent. Similarly, Manchester and LLLeeds had revamped in 2013 with similar aspirations and development plans, but in their 3/4 game-to-go Manchesterdemonstrated their extra experience and quality to close out a 15-10 victory and take the final A Tour berth.

Thoughts on B Tour
  • In previous years, so-called yo-yo teams seemed to come up every Tour and head straight back down a Tour later without really putting up too much of a fight. The depth of the competition is a lot stronger in 2013 – consistent A Tour squads of the past few years are now struggling to come back up, teams are running large rosters reflecting their A Tour contemporaries and using tactics and ideas pioneered by the strongest clubs in the country.
  • Whilst the top half of the division featured some close games, the standard really dipped beyond a certain point and resulted in some really falling off the radar. The top 3 teams were spread by three points (11-10 to Glasgowover Manchester, 15-13 to Zimmer over Glasgow) but the level beyond that seemed to dim. Speaking from a personal perspective, Manchester convincingly put LLLeeds away twice by a 5 point margin and took Vision and Burro to the sword (15-5 and 15-8 repectively). Whilst B Tour has come a long way, it still feels as if some games for the more established squads would be more beneficial if Tour 1 allowed for crossovers into A Tour on Sunday.
  • The weekend saw some massive seeding swings, with Fusion nearly falling through the trapdoor and Glasgowrocketing to A Tour after being underseeded coming into the weekend. Reading showcased their growing programme with a strong showing resulting in a 6 place rise whilst Cardiff, JR and The Brown all have their work cut out after disappointing showings.
  • With Zimmer considering not entering Tour 2 and Rebel not entering due to its proximity to Windmill Windup, the teams promoted to A tour are yet to be revealed, but perhaps this year we will see some new faces upset the established order. With Devon, Cambridgeand Tooting all finishing in the historic relegation spots from previous years, the 9-20 bracket could see some real chopping and changing during the season – and those coveted Top 16 places look to be more fiercely contested than ever before.
Watch out for Dale and his team (Manchester Ultimate) along with the new promotions to the A tour in a couple weeks! More reviews tomorrow @ tSG.

London’s Calling Review – C Tour

C Tour, Flump, Lemmings, London's Calling, Mustard, Open Tour, Tournament Reports
Matthew Parker from Flump Open gives us their view of C Tour at London’s Calling.

The first C tour of the season brought many exciting opportunities for competitors. New teams with something to prove, seasoned teams looking to push into B tour, but all teams looking forward to a fantastic weekend of competitive ultimate unlike any other competition in the UK. With the largest C tour has ever been, and the inviting sun, London, was indeed, Calling. 

Complaints of seeding issues ruffled through the teams as the first day produced a collection of significant upsets, including the top seed Lemmings being toppled after a dominant display from newcomers Birmingham, who would prove to be a dominant force over the weekend. Flump also put on an excellent performance on the first day, conceding only 5 points in the group stage. Other seeding issues saw a reduced Yopen squad drop out of qualification after being dispatched by Mustard and an exceptionally close game against Rhubarb, who rose quickly up the seedings from the bottom half. As is consistent with C tour, the mix of standards saw relatively easy saturdays for the teams finishing top of their group, with dominant scores in their group. 

Flump Open take C tour by storm! Photo courtesy of David Gate. 

The start of the Sunday brought the prospect of closer games for all teams in C tour, with the quarter finals producing dominant displays again from Flump and Birmingham, knocking Saints and our hosts, St Albans, out of the running for the coveted 3 B tour slots. The other quarter finals displayed some exceptional ultimate, with Mustard edging  out Trigger Happy in sudden death in a tantalizing finish, and Devon 2 producing an exciting and dominant performance over Guildford in a game that was a mixture of everything that made ultimate exciting, layouts, long hucks with huge grabs, and some superb D. After a long break, the C tour semis of Flump vs Mustard, and Birmingham vs Devon 2, commenced in sight of coveted B tour slots, the winner of these matches guaranteeing themselves entry. Flump and Birmingham seemed destined to set up a tantalizing final, with dominant semi-final performances. The scores however, did not represent how close these games were, or the excellent quality of the ultimate on display. Indeed, some A tour players watching on the sidelines were overheard commenting; “What tour is this?”, “C tour semis”, “Holy S**t, this is C tour!? Wow.”  

In an unfortunate scheduling issue, the finals were played immediately after the semis, however, this did not stop the players leaving everything out on the pitches and producing some fantastic ultimate. Shielded by the trees in the corner field, the wind became less of a factor, as beautiful overhead play through the Flump zone by Birmingham saw points trading at the start of the game. However, after the success of a few set plays and some fantastic use of hammers saw Flump take the half. Flump looked set to round of a weekend of dominant victories, however Birmingham did not drop their heads and pushed Flump to up their game and take C tour 15-9. From neighboring pitch, calls of “we’ll see you in B tour” resonated from Devon 2 after a victory over Mustard. 
C tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.
Overall, this exciting weekend, complete with sun, wind, and great ultimate, was a fantastic showcase for the improvement in the standard of UK Ultimate. However, it seems that there is still an ever-persistent crevice in seedings for C tour, with the qualifying teams dispatching lower teams to cap with relative ease, meaning that their first truly competitive matches are not until well into the second day. Nevertheless, C tour will continue to serve as a fantastic, competitive platform for developing and recreational teams, and this tournament, especially at St Alban’s beautiful venue, will remain the highlight tournament of the year for many teams.

Nice one! We have had Irish and C tour, tomorrow B tour. DP @ tSG remember to like, share and contribute!

A Tough Pill to Swallow

A Tour, An Irish Eye, Chevron, Fire of London, GB, Irish Ultimate, London's Calling, Ranelagh, Rebel Ultimate, Tournament Reports

Mark Earley kicks off our T1 review week with how the Irish lads did at London’s Calling.

Three Irish teams travelled to London for UKU Tour 1 at the start of June and all three returned to Ireland licking their wounds and eagerly counting the days until their next outing. Tour is a tough animal – you show a weakness and you get savaged. No team gives you anything and the higher you go up the ladder, the stiffer the competition gets. Irish teams know this and it appeals to their stubborn, physical and hard-working approach to the sport. Indeed, much of what Irish Ultimate has achieved over the past decade has been built on foundations picked up over freezing cold weekends in Mansfield, sun drenched days in Cardiff and at windblown Brit Opens. So, why the poor results this time around? Well before trying to answer that let’s look at how the three teams fared.

Ireland U-23 Open went into B Tour expected to challenge for the title and with the added bonus of a run out against their British counterparts in a show game. Saturday went to plan, with no team able to run with them and they coasted into the quarters not having conceded more than 6 points in any one the game. The show game saw the highly fancied GB team rattled until half, which they took by 1 point, and after which they powered on to win the game 15-9. Ireland fought hard and showed athleticism, a decent work ethic and a sense of team that will stand to them in Toronto. However, on Sunday morning it all came apart in spectacular fashion. Complacency set in and LeedsLeedsLeeds took full advantage, racing to a 4-0 lead and not looking back. Ireland went on to win their final two games, both by a single point.

Highlights of the show game between Ireland U-23 & GB U-23
Lorcan Murray, one of the team’s captains, explained that they had got a lot from what he called ‘a disappointing but necessary lesson in what it takes to succeed in Toronto’. Murray went on to say that collectively they ‘realised the potential of our squad and what it felt like when we played to the best of our potential. More importantly we realised the difference between confidence (Saturday morning) and complacency (Sunday morning)’. Furthermore he said team chemistry was improving, something that will have a big part to play come July – ‘Coming away from our first tournament as a full squad there was a collective awareness of the personality of our team. Positivity is the fuel that fires us. When we’re leading we’re happy, joking and boisterous when we take big deficits we turned on each other and fell into the trap of our own frustrations’. The Irish youngsters will be back for Tour 2 where Murray says their goals are straightforward – ‘to go undefeated and get a shot at some Tour A standard opposition, but more vitally than that is our aim to maintain the attitude and approach we take when we are winning’.

Some of the U-23s pose with the St Albans Mayor
Ranelagh went into the weekend confident of returning to the top 8 where they made their presence felt last season, finishing an Irish-team-high of 5th place. However, it just never quite clicked for the Dublin-based team. An opening day defeat to Chevvy was as heavy as it was hard to take. Unforced errors were punished by a smooth and confident Chevron O and suddenly the score was 5-0. Ranelagh regrouped but cough up that big a lead to any top 8 team and you won’t be let back in. Next up were Brighton, a team Ranelagh beat for the first time in 2012. This time the Dubliners controlled the game from the start but come 12-9 and with the cap set at 13, two huge Brighton Ds and two uncharacteristic errors saw them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A third flat display rounded out the day as Fire 1 ran Ranelagh ragged on the way to a 15-5 win. Vice-captain Sam Mehigan said of their day one opponents – ‘the standard in the top 8 was very high. Chevvy and Fire thoroughly outperformed us. They had strong defences and Chevvy especially had a very clinical offence’.

Peter Forde of Ranelagh holsters the throw to Sam Mehigan

Day two was a welcome improvement for a Ranelagh team missing a couple of players, but once again it began on the wrong foot with a sudden death loss to a wily Bear Cavalry team, lead by a virtuoso performance by Dave Tyler – capped off with a point block and layout grab in the final point. DED bore the brunt of Ranelagh’s frustrations and were beaten 15-6, a result Mehigan was pleased with. ‘DED beat us a few times last season in games we still carry with us but after four straight losses on the weekend, they got the wrong end of our frustration and we beat them by a large margin’. That left an all-Irish battle for 13thplace. Mehigan explained how the win went for his team – ‘The last game of the weekend was the 1st ever meeting of Ranelagh and Rebel on foreign shores. The first half saw lots of trading with each team having a few small runs and thus the lead changed hands a few times. The second half saw a Ranelagh run that got us a margin which we managed to hold onto to win by 6’.

Looking back on the weekend the team will be disappointed having been beaten badly by two top teams and losing closely to teams they would prefer to be beating. According to Mehigan they will be back with renewed focus come Tour 2 – ‘We didn’t do as well as we feel we could have, so it was a bit disappointing. After just two days for the dust to settle it’s too soon to have identified our goals, but for sure we’ll be looking to get our performance consistently to the level we showed in patches at Tour 1’.

Rebel Ultimate and Irish Mixed Beach team player Darragh Kelleher goes up

Rebel will arguably be the least concerned with their results this being their debut in the A Tour and only the start of their season. The Cork outfit are consistently raising the bar for others in Ireland, thrive on new challenges and have many of the UCC Ultimate team on their roster so it came as little surprise to see them competing in the top bracket of UK Ultimate. They approached the tournament looking to make 9th place their own but, much like Ranelagh, shipped a couple of heavy losses that disrupted their plans. With a somewhat depleted roster due to the Irish U-23s team presence, a certain team member sleeping in and a couple of late injuries the Corkonians struggled with numbers.

On Saturday the team in red made light work of both Devon 1 and Tooting Tigers but lost heavily to Bear Cavalry and as a result faced a tricky crossover against Brighton on Sunday morning. The southern English team beat the southern Irish team by a big margin meaning Fire 2 were their next opponents. Rebel regrouped and got involved in a dogfight with the London team. After a few tight calls and a turn by each team the sudden death point finished in Rebels favour and the ‘Irish Classico’, as detailed earlier, was on. A tight first half ended with an injury to leader Brian O’Callaghan and Ranelagh never looked back.

Rebel & Ranelagh team photo – a rarity! 

Speaking to Donal Murray, one of the team’s leadership, he was pleased with the weekend as a whole, specifically as a way of bedding in new players – ‘The weekend was all that we could have hoped for: a smoothly run tournament, beautiful weather, and tough long games against teams we knew well, not so well, or not at all. Some of our players got some knocks or had a few niggles, but nobody got badly injured during the tournament. As well as our regulars, some players were making their Rebel debut, some their Rebel comeback, while others just finished exams. We didn’t have strategies and systems drilled in, but we had a few talks before and during the weekend on team goals, individual goals, and the attitude we expected.  We were quite happy with how our teammates improved with these over the weekend’.

He added that there was work to do – ‘Our goal of 9th didn’t quite materialise, but a mixture of results ensured a thorough investigation of where we’re currently at as an open team and as a club’. Murray was impressed with the standard of the Tour – ‘Every team we played had some fantastic athleticism, great throws and clear systems. Some had lines, some had their own rotation system, some had clearly defined plays and defences while others had looser styles. It was great to play against some players who have become household names, to still see women compete in the open division at A tour, to see a very high standard of spirit with this year’s new rules, and to finally get a crack of A tour teams’. While Rebel wont be back for Tour 2 as it’s too close to their annual trip to Amsterdam for Windmill Windup, they hope to make Tour 3; ‘Our goal is the same as always, finish as high as possible and improve as individuals and as a team.  One or two more specific goals will be specified to the players in trainings and in the run up to the tournament’.

There’s no doubting the talent pool in Ireland, nor the enthusiasm but Tour 1 will surely have blunted some of the Irish confidence. In terms of the reasons, they are many – from injuries to complacency – but as each captain/leader has made clear, the teams will come back with renewed determination looking to get back on the horse, so to speak! It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the Tour pans out. 

Photos courtesy of Niall McCarney, Cynthia Lo & Andrew Moss
Video courtesy of Felix Shardlow at Push Pass Productions

Look forward to seeing Irish teams at T2 and hearing more from Mark! Like, share and more in the right hand pane, more T1 reviews coming up. DP @ tSG. 

An early look at Clapham.

A Tour, Chevron, Clapham, Fire of London, London's Calling, Open Tour

Sion “Brummie” Scone was at T1 spectating, tweeting for tSG and tells us what he observed of Clapham in this seasons first outing.

Justin [Foord] got a little upset that Clapham seemed to have attracted some “hatred” from my tweets at the weekend.  So, in the interest of fairness, here’s some more detailed thoughts based on observations at Tour 1 while I wait for my dinner to cook:

1) This is a stacked team.  They haven’t lost many players from last year, and have picked up some speedy deep threats in Enda Naughton and Stephan Rossbauer.  Oh, and Rob Schumacher, the fastest guy in British/German ultimate. I doubt Clapham will get a tight game from any domestic matchup in 2013 (cue outrage from Chevron, Fire et al).  But this team looks like they haven’t rested on their laurels after winning EUCF, as they stormed past everyone in St Albans.

2) They are athletic – and they know it.  And this could be something that actually causes them problems. They were easily capable of out-muscling the opposition (case in point, I saw Clapham huck it to Dom Clark going deep when his defender was still deep of him, the thrower just knew that Dom would over take and score … which he did). It would be easy for Clapham to be blasé about what the other team is doing, and just run right by them as if they weren’t even there; hence my comment about making eight cuts into the same spot.  Clapham could be their own worst enemy in many respects; if no-one else is going to give them a tight game, then they need to critical of themselves if they want to improve.  They are off to Chesapeake in a few months to play the likes of Ironside and GOAT, and the worst thing they could do is get used to out-muscling teams in the UK, then come across a team that is equally or more athletic.  Splitting their lines for Tour is the right decision for them, but maybe they need a really even split to give themselves some preparation of how to play against people who are just too damned fast.

3) They’ve learned a nice poachy set to break down brick/pull play scenarios.  It was really effective.  Even better, they have been working on transitions, which were pretty slick and got numerous turns *during* the transition (particularly in the final), which is a credit to Clapham.  This is no mean feat, and shows a smart defensive team as well as one who can run with any team in the world.  They mean business, and should be in a great position to compete in the USA.
Clapham Bullfrogs: 12 times Nationals champions.
4) It is so hard to be the team that is way out in front.  If any team in the UK needs to do video analysis of their own performances, it is Clapham.  Winning shouldn’t be enough for this team, winning well should be a constant aim.  Aside from a few individual mistakes on Saturday afternoon, Clapham were never really pressured enough to cough the disc up, but it wasn’t obvious whose job it was to make things happen when the offence stalled.  Justin?  Britney?  Cian?  Schuie?  Colin?  The list of “go-to” players is much longer than this, but you can see the potential for problems when you have so many players capable of dominating the pitch all thrown in together.  And bear in mind this lot were just on one of the two teams.  As a result, when it got messy, it got *really* messy, and while they got away with occasional lapses last weekend, those same mistakes made in Chesapeake may well be more costly.  Still, first tournament of the season so there will be plenty of time to iron out these minor blips.

5) Clapham oozes confidence.  They strolled – almost literally – through the final.  They were six goals in before I heard a celebration, and offence just looked so easy for them; they weren’t pressured on the mark at all (or at least, they didn’t look like they were pressured).  I don’t even think I saw them get to full speed this weekend, which is seriously scary when you think about what they might do when they step up a gear (for example, I didn’t see a single layout block).  Considering they were playing with short lines, I suspect this team might peak at exactly the right time.  Did I mention they did all of that missing their GB U23 players?  Ha.  This team has bags of potential, and the road to Worlds looks promising.  In 2010, Clapham had one of the most stacked teams I’ve ever seen assembled from the UK, and fell far short of their target of a berth in semi finals.  Let’s hope that they have learned from the mistakes they made last time, and that they don’t get too confident too soon.

Ironside et al – beware.  The bullfrogs are coming.  My dinner’s on fire.


Comments, tweets etc are all welcome! DP @ tSG.